Raised beds are all the rave at the moment. If you’re like me and you want to keep your knees young and strong, this might be the trend for you to try it. It is absolutely versatile and allows you to basically create a garden in any space.
My back garden started off as a dead plot of land with dry soil devoid of nutrients which only seemed good enough for those pesky vines to grow in.
With the help of some wood, tarpaulin and fresh soil, I was able to have my own raised bed to plant in.
You can create your own raised bed from just about any study material; concrete blocks, wood, metal, old furniture, an old bathtub…seriously, just about anything. It allows you to get creative and design a great looking garden without having to dig and dig and dig.
Speaking of creativity, plants that you harvest from the roots, such as potatoes, ginger etc, are even easier to get access to when they’re planted in a raised bed. Imagine creating your own custom raised bed with a front “door” that you can pop open and pull out those bad boys from “underground”. Cool right?!
You can grow just about anything in your raised bed. But for the purpose of this blog post, I’ll go into detail about some vegetables you can grow in a raised bed.
Why Use Raised Beds?
I can go on and on about the many reasons why this is a superb way to create a garden but I’ll just list a few benefits of gardening using raised beds.
- It protects your soil from eroding and spilling as is often the case with traditional soil beds.
- Since you are laying the soil yourself, and it is a “young” patch of earth, it will be less dense/compact.
- You’ll have less weeds to contend with in a raised bed as the soil is more controlled.
- In months where frost is usually an issue, it is easier to control the temperature of the beds.
- Very easy to access your plants and produce. Remember what I was saying about knees? You won’t have to bend to tend to your garden. How great is that?!
- You can ensure that you have the right soil and depth for plants that need deep roots to grow healthy.
What Type of Soil Should I Use for Raised Beds?
Decide what type of soil depending on what you are are thinking of growing. Some plants need a lot of nitrogen, like tomatoes and beans. For those, you will need compost or manure.
Then you have those types of plants that can grow in just about any soil, such as spinach, peppers, and carrots…you can fill your bed with sand for extra drainage for these.
Here’s a quick guide to building a raised bed:
If you’ve decided on wood, then you will need wood planks, screws, and soil to for your raised bed. Double check to be sure that the wood planks you’re using are safe for vegetable gardens and won’t leach any chemicals into your soil.
Best Vegetables for Growing In Raised Beds
Tomatoes are one of those plants that you can grow in any height/type of raised bed. It actually needs more space horizontally than it needs vertically where soil is concerned.
Your main concern when growing tomatoes should be the soil quality. They are demanding. Which, let’s face it, is an upside to growing them in a raised bed. You have full control over the water content and nutrient ratios of your raised bed.
Plant them in February and (fingers and toes crossed) with the right weather conditions, you can be popping them in your mouth come the end of June, early July. Not bad…not bad at all.
Bush tomatoes are your best bet as they tend to grow maybe 4” tall then spread using more branches versus a taller main stem. Once these have grown to their full height, they tend to grow and ripen the tomato produce within two to three weeks!
So after reading this, get to planting your bush tomatoes please. Thank me later.
If you’re looking for an extremely quick crop, jump on the radish bandwagon! Within 3-4 weeks their red heads will be poking out the to0 of the soil waiting for you to pluck them out and enjoy.
Between March and August are the best sowing months if you want to keep the radish assembly line flowing. Keep watering them in dry months and practice thinning them regularly so that all their goodness goes into the radishes and not the leaves/stems.
Onions are very very beginner friendly. I mean, you can plant anything onion and it will grow. Lol. Not literally, but, you have options.
Plant sets (small onions) for the fastest growing produce, plant seeds and watch them sprout into seedlings or even grow new plants from leftover onions.
So, what’s the timeline? If you’re going with planting sets, then your best bet is to get them in the ground during Spring or Autumn. Any other time will either be too cold or too hot. Give or take 5 months till you’ll see the leaves drying up letting you know it’s time to cook up a batch of onion rings.
I love me some carrots. The excitement of planting the different varieties gets me all the time. White, orange, purple, yellow…the sky’s the limit!
When you grow your carrots in a raised bed you can avoid just about all the possible horror stories including carrot flies…which only affect your plants when they’re right in the ground. Height is your friend.
Some varieties are okay to sow in February/March but I recommend covering them with veggie fleece or cloches. Please, please, please…be gentle with the covering and weeding etc of your carrots. Those carrot flies are like moths to a flame when you break the stems. They are super sensitive to the smell and come running (flying) to destroy all your hard work.
Sun, fertiliser and proper drainage…these three are key for you getting nice, juicy garlic bulbs when you harvest from your raised bed.
They need a bit of chilly weather to get going, so Autumn is the best time to plant them. Spring is also an option, but because the warm weather kicks in in full gear quickly, you’ll reap smaller bulbs than those planted in October/November.
Garlic is able to grow a whole plant from one clove at a time. Plant them pointy side up and water them regularly, till about one month before you’re ready to pick them.
I’ve grown celery from store bought heads that I bought to use for cooking. These guys are pretty resilient and grow quite quickly.
Just like I told you about onions being easily grown from different starters…celery is the same. You can use seeds, small plants or even the base of a celery that you bought and used. Like tomatoes, you’re going to have to properly fertilise the soil (hint, hint…benefit of a raised bed) and keep them watered but not waterlogged (did I say another benefit of this raised bed phenomenon?).
If you notice that your celery is sprouting flowers….abort! Harvest the celery immediately to stop it from getting those bitter-tasting stalks.
I’d recommend sowing your spinach seeds directly in the raised bed since it’s roots can be damaged really easily. In the bed, always check the moisture of the soil around your spinach.
I know gardening with gloves is nice and clean, but to check the soil I’m growing my spinach in, I believe the best way is to push your fingers a few inches into the soil and feel for moisture. If it’s dry, wet it and if it is too wet, then it should be easier to drain, being a raised bed and all.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with the height of your bed and plant multiple rows of spinach at different levels. Harvesting time usually more plentiful this way.
Between 1 1/2 to 2 months is when you’d be able to munch and crunch your spinach leaves. You definitely don’t want to wait for the leaves to turn big (and tough) before you cut them to eat. Cutting baby leaves as they grow also help you to get fuller, healthier spinach plants.
Beans are actually one of the easiest vegetables to grow in a raised bed. If you want to avoid having to support your bean string, opt to plant bush bean varieties (similar to what I said about tomatoes). If you want to have a continuous harvest then sow your beans every two weeks or so.
The best part about growing beans in raised beds is that you can start sowing seeds directly into the soil as soon as the soil is warm enough.
As I mentioned in my guide to companion planting, beans give out quite a bit of nitrogen in the soil and so be sure to pair them with nitrogen loving plants as they grow.
Lettuce is just one of those plants that are raised bed-worthy because they are versatile. You can plant them nearby your tomatoes, spinach…most things to be honest.
I absolutely love seeing all the varieties of lettuce when they mature and I can cut some to make a quick cob salad.
Lettuce reaches maturity before all the other crops you add to your raised beds so thinning them is actually easy. Just snip every other plant, then rotate as you go along.
Here’s My Conclusion
Honestly, the amount of diversity that you can create by having your vegetables in a raised bed is infinite. You can use it for companion planting or to simply separate those plants that prefer to be on their own.
Not only does it make it easier to maintain the health of your soil, but it can also help you get the most out of your garden space.
When you read through this blog post I bet you came out thinking of all the possibilities for your raised bed! Enjoy it…create it…then enjoy your veggies.